Nu Music 7-3

Linkin Park
Minutes To Midnight

Here on Linkin Park’s third studio album producers Rick Rubin and Mike Shinoda decided to counter their hybrid theory. Once a mixture of slick rhymes and metal, the raps of this group have been overruled by rock. Rapping, which made them great, only happens twice on this album, with one Hip Hop cut "Bleed It Out" being this LPs best moment. Even their singing became sedated. Vocals here sounds like bad boys trying to turn over a new leaf for charm school acceptance.

Gretchen Wilson
One Of The Boys

This is clearly Wilson’s best album, as she’s stepped up her writing skill 100 times. Once just here for the party, the bar girl has come home to deal with life away from the beer tap. One can feel her maturity and emotion, and she does an excellent job verbalizing situations most common to men, like on "If You Want A Mother" and "You Don’t Have To Go Home". But it’s when she momentarily silences her tomboy ways that she really shines. "Pain Killer" and "To Tell You The Truth" is Lucy loving Ricky … then going for her baseball bat.

Bobby Valentino
Special Occasion

Bobby Valentino was good to go solo, and he continues to show it here on his second solo release for Def Jam. Once a member of soul quartet Mista, this new album more resembles the sound he was introduced on. With his previous full-length recording, Bobby walked the line between soul-inspired, newer R&B-like trends. His tracks had more of a Hip Hop feel, and his light crooning was sometimes lost in the heavy bass and multi-layered drum tracks; he also seemed to overcompensate to stay in time with his beats. Here things feel more tailored-made for his voice. The Rodney Jerkins-produced "Turn The Page" is exactly the type of production Bobby needed. The instruments meld better to his voice; his background vocals are arranged better and sound less digital. Here Bobby also lessens the use of moan-like singing styles found on his first album, increasing volume on octave range and tone control. Much of these improvements are found throughout, which, by comparison to his previous work, is less pop, more R&B; less Hip Hop-inspired, more soul. When it comes to love songs, Bobby’s bite is worse than his bark; as long as he strays away from trendy tracks he’ll continue to be the pick of the litter. "Soon As I Get Home" and "I Was Wrong" makes excellent use of Bobby’s southern gentleman nature.

Mail press and album review material to Joe Walker, PO Box 1375, E Lansing, MI 48826-1375 or cal 517-914-6976.